HxGN LIVE Resiliency Series: Achieving road safety goals in the face of aging infrastructure and increased traffic 

Zero traffic fatalities and deaths are the goals for departments of transportation (DOTs). But how can state and local governments achieve this vision, while also dealing with aging infrastructure and increased traffic?

According to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an estimated 28,190 people died in traffic crashes from January through September of 2020, up from 26,941 in the same period in 2019. And research published by the nonprofit TRIP revealed that since funding of the Interstate system was approved in 1956 to 2018, annual vehicle miles of travel (VMT) in the U.S. increased by 418%, from 626 billion miles driven, to approximately 3.2 trillion miles driven. On top of that, the American Society of Civil Engineers 2021 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, gave a score of C-, saying, “Growing wear and tear on our nation’s roads have left 43% of our public roadways in poor or mediocre condition, a number that has remained stagnant over the past several years.”

Here’s a quick look at some of the topics that were covered during our HxGN Live Resiliency Series.

Take data-driven safety to the next level

Government agencies and engineers make or recommend investment decisions every day that impact the safety of the traveling public. Increasingly, these decisions are driven by data. For instance, crash data can pinpoint problematic locations and be used to build reports used to request funding and meet objectives of initiatives like Vision Zero and Toward Zero Deaths. While these elements of safety planning are achievable, a complete analysis is often not fully integrated with a consistent data model, resulting in inefficacies and threatening the quality of the analysis and proposed improvements.

Integrated safety management tools that capitalize on crash data and analytics, identification of at-risk locations, and easier access to comprehensive safety data can enable better investment decisions while helping DOTs achieve zero fatality and serious injury goals and produce accurate Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) reports.

Ensure secure and accessible information across the DOT

DOT systems crucial to planning, permitting, routing, maintenance, and monitoring are oftentimes disjointed, leading to inefficiencies that can increase lead times for critical investigations, building projects, and approvals, resulting in not only disruptions for the traveling public and movement of goods, but also higher costs, both in dollars and safety. Access to enterprise-wide data can aid DOTs in keeping traffic moving smoothly and efficiently.

We discussed the benefits of data integration, automation and sharing across the DOT, including in the cloud, and how this can streamline all types of planning and operational processes, as well as provide access to richer information that can inform safety measures.

Achieve more efficient inspections with digital twins

Transportation professionals rely on different data sources, usually spread across multiple systems and departments and in differing formats, making it difficult to see real-time analytics and get a real-life view of the complete network. This makes it almost impossible to get a holistic understanding of the conditions of different assets crucial to safety, planning, and maintenance.

We examined how organizations can avoid data duplication and ensure all users have access to accurate and up-to-date information by combining asset and spatial data into an integrated system and common operational picture. Incorporating GIS, 3D and AI capabilities enables DOTs to create an advanced digital twin, a real-life reflection of the as-operated network.

Realize the possibilities for intelligent infrastructure monitoring

DOTs need safety management systems that support their state or regional roadway safety programs and bolster federal reporting requirements. Too often, incomplete or out-of-date data impairs an organization’s ability to monitor its infrastructure in real time, leading to cost inefficiencies, bridge strikes, and sometimes endangering motorists.

A data-driven environment can help transportation analysts and safety engineers identify high-risk locations based on crash rates, frequency, roadway characteristics and other criteria. These kinds of systems also support data collection and project identification, critical steps to securing state and federal project funding.

Go from data sharing to true project and operational collaboration

Transportation organizations need to increase planning and operational visibility within their own departments and externally to other public and private-sector stakeholders. But fragmented systems with multiple data silos can increase costs and take up valuable time, hampering a DOT’s ability is to keep its region’s roadways flowing freely and safely.

We spoke about how connecting data-driven departments and organizations allows users to access all critical data from the original source, leading to upticks in efficiency, performance, and safety for day-to-day tasks and operations, projects and planning, and response times to incidents of all sizes.

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